Canopy Sill Longeron Cracks Caused The Grounding Of 90 USAF F-16s Within The Past Year | Aviation

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File photo of two U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 120th Fighter Squadron (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Wolfram M. Stumpf/Released)

Cracks on the canopy sill longerons are affecting the U.S. Air Force inventory of F-16s.

An interesting article recently published by the 140th Wing Public Affairs exposes an issue affecting the U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet: canopy sill longeron (CSL) cracks. The CSLs run the full length of the cockpit and support the structure between the frame and skin of the aircraft, preventing tension and bending of the fuselage.

Aging airframes are more subject to structural issues and according to the article, the structural integrity of the longeron is getting worse: CSL cracks were identified on 90 aircraft across the U.S. Air Force within the past year.

“The aircraft is immediately grounded when the canopies crack,” Tech. Sgt. Taylar M. Reilly said. “A crack can spread, and if both sides break, the whole nose could fall off.”

In order to tackle the issue, Colorado Air National Guard maintainers of the 140th Maintenance Group has implemented new maintenance practices, led by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Danielle M. Morgan and Tech. Sgt. Taylar M. Reilly, that have allowed the team to complete, locally, repairs on two aircraft experiencing the issue at the same time, that would normally be done at a depot facility, with an extended downtime of the jets.

According to the guidance Reilly has received, the depot has an overwhelming workload and is unable to complete these repairs in a timely manner. In addition, other units may not have the in-depth expertise needed for aircraft-specific repairs like this. National Guard members, on the other hand, typically remain in the same career and unit for an extended period, which adds a level of expertise in aircraft-specific maintenance practices.

Reilly, Morgan, and their team have over 20 years of combined experience with aircraft structural…

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